There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa sells off her rare jazz records to help finance a family vacation. “After a while, they all start to sound the same. Still love the genre, of course.” If I had to make such a sacrifice, some albums would be easier to let go of than others. But I’d hate to see Mates go, Argentinean trumpeter Diego Urcola’s album of duets, Diego Urcola.
The cover makes it look like something you’d pick up at the checkout counter at Pottery Barn, encouraging “background music” for your social life with your cool new cutlery. But the album is a celebration of the one-on-one nature of social drinking. Mate is a South American beverage meant for sharing, a tool to help people bond. Diego Urcola carries the one-on-one idea over to his music, dueting with bassist Avishai Cohen, vibraphonist/marimbist Dave Samuels, harpist Edmar Castañeda, and bandoneonist Juan dArgenton. Spread over 14 tracks and lasting more than an hour, what unfolds is astounding. It’s not so much a new form of jazz as it is a resurrection of a lost art form. Kind of like the death of the art of conversation in a world dominated by social media and smartphones. But enough of that—less soapboxing, more music. Mates is for anybody at any time.